JJ Got Live Ra TX

With some cymbal shivers, a trippy jam shimmies into earview, big 80’s rock synths, some vague just out of range vocodered vocals and what sounds like Bobby Beasoleils masterful soundtrack to Anger’s Lucifer Rising. The tension is palpable – and besides, you know who this is, and so you know what’s coming. Two minutes in, they slam it down, smashing the door in and stinking of petrol, jack and psychedelics- a martial thunder of drums, staccato metal riffs, scuzzy bass and that guttural ungendered kick-ass fuck-you growl. "You Should Shut Up", she gloats.

At four minutes, they lock down, she starts chanting and when she’s done there are a million guitar solos furiously fighting for space. Five minutes, they grind to a halt, you’re breathless and realise you’ve been rocking out on a packed tube at rush hour. Its ok though, it’s to be expected- this, after all, is RTX, and she is none other than Jennifer Herrema.

"There’s a few things I need/ Gotta take some sleep time/ keep my band in line… "

Herrema was half responsible for the most freaked-out ‘rock’ album of all time- the bitches brew of smack and Dick (Philip K) that was Royal Trux’s Twin Infinitives, music so out there that it makes Trout Mask Replica sound like Basshunter. RTX are a much leaner affair, a super-tight sheet metal overload – it’s The Stooges, Van Halen and a massive injection of trippy weirdness. Rock music, but redefined with crystal clarity. The rampant chaos of Herrema’s fucked-up biography (music, drugs, modelling, science-fiction) infects everything she had done since Infinitives. It’s there in a split second of the aforementioned opener when everything is shot through echo and effects. Or in the poignant and elegiac ‘Cheap Wine Time’ (kind of like ‘Exile on Main Street’ from 2045 ) where the lead guitar is so screwed over that it sounds like a meandering Martian worm. Without warning, it collapses into a cavernous and reverbing percussive breakdown. This is what makes RTX so different, why they belong so much to rock but still manage to move it on. Among the attack there are a layers upon layers of subtlety – everything is tweaked just slightly – every instrument, every lick, every utterance has had something done to it. There is a bizarre cleanliness to everything. David Stubbs once talked about the beauty of Young God’s sampled riffs – how the uncoupling of the guitar from its source material added a post-human cybernetic sheen – this is exactly how RTX sound; it comes from a parallel rock universe.

This is what Primal Scream dream of being rather than the desperately sad and tedious re-enactment pantomime that they are (ironically RTX are supporting ‘Scream during their UK tour). Vitally, there is no tongue-in-cheek kitsch irony either – this shit is in their blood – its not a posture or pose. We’re a thousand miles from the late and frankly fucking awfully idiotic Darkness, and JJ Got Live RaTX will make the new preposterously named Guns ‘N’ Roses album (due out in 3045) sound like the limp-wristed has-been that it will inevitably be.

Rock has been hauling its aging carcass around for decades. There are moments here though that make you feel like you’re hearing it again for the first time. Now, who the fuck is going to turn down THAT opportunity?

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